AMES, Iowa (AP) — In less than a year, Iowa State has gone from not having enough quality players to having perhaps too many for the minutes available.
How coach Steve Prohm handles the situation will determine the Big 12 fate of the Cyclones. The early returns suggest he won't try to keep everyone happy.
Despite having arguably a dozen Big 12-level players, Prohm largely stuck with a seven-man rotation in Wednesday's 69-63 win over Oklahoma State. That is not likely to change when the Cyclones (11-2, 1-0 Big 12) host No. 5 Kansas (12-1, 1-0) on Saturday.
"At the end of the day, you can't just throw in 10 or 11 guys in there just because you think you have them," Prohm said. "You have to play the guys you think can win, and if you're running guys in and out I think that sometimes defeats the purpose. Everybody has different philosophies."
Iowa State brought back a pair of starters in Lindell Wigginton and Solomon Young in late December, which left the team completely healthy for the first time all season.
But Prohm became so comfortable with his starting five in their absence that he has continued to use it, even though Wigginton has played starter-type minutes since coming back and will do so for the rest of the year, according to Prohm.
"The bottom line is, in this league you need finishers," Prohm said when asked if Wigginton will rejoin the starting lineup.
Point guard Tyrese Haliburton — once Wigginton's de facto replacement — has made himself surprisingly indispensable as a freshman. The 6-foot-5 Haliburton's versatility has helped spark an offense that ranks first in the Big 12 at 82.3 points per game and second in the league at 48.5 percent shooting.
Haliburton, once a prime candidate for a redshirt, is averaging 8.3 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.2 rebounds and 2.1 steals while shooting 45 percent on 3s and committing just 11 turnovers.
"It's just about finding your role and adapting to that role," Haliburton said. "For some guys it could be scoring 20 points. For some guys, it could be getting 10 rebounds. For me, I just think I bring a lot of energy to this team, and that's my main role right now."
One of the guys that hasn't consistently cracked Prohm's rotation is sophomore Cam Lard, who seemed on the verge of stardom just a year ago. Prohm did make Lard his first post player off the bench against the Cowboys, and Lard could play a major role on Saturday against the likes of Kansas big men Dedric Lawson and Udoka Azubuike.
Lard played a season-high 16 minutes in Stillwater.
"I thought he made a huge difference for us defensively," Prohm said. "He just gave us a presence I think we need in this league at the rim. He was dialed in, but it took him a while ... that was the first step, and now he's got to take the next step."